34th Singapore Bird Race with “Wings of Johor” by Belinda Wong.
I am surprised to see at least 14 tagged Common Redshanks in this group.
This year’s Singapore Bird race has an additional category of “Best Bird Photo’ contest offered by main sponsor Sony Singapore. A Sony RX10 Mark IV awaits the best photo. The catch is the photo must be captured by a Sony RX10 Mark IV camera. So for that we drove over to Sungei Buloh Visitor Centre (SBVC) Singapore for a brief camera familiarization on 10th November 2018, a day before the race. The Sony RX10M4 is a really amazing camera from what we learnt during the short training with lots of amazing features.
Just loved how the Common Redshank is reflected in the water.
Our friend, YK Han had kindly offered to show us around the known birding spots around Sungei Buloh and Kranji areas before the training in the afternoon. My team mate, Lai Peng and I gladly accepted the opportunity as we were unsure how to move around the area. Last year we had taken part for the first time, also in the “photography category” and we found ourselves getting lost a few times, losing lots of precious time trying to find our way to and from Sg. Buloh and Kranji Marshes.
Lesser Coucals are normally difficult to spot, glad I got a decent shot.
The next morning, 11th November 2018, we were all geared up for the actual day of the race. As we had to register by 7.00am and flag off at 7.30am, we aimed to reach SBVC by 6.30am just to be on the safe side. For this I was up by 4.30am, had a quick breakfast at home and picked up Lai Peng at around 5.30am. There was no jam at the Causeway as it was really early and we reached SBVC just before 6.30am. I thought we were the first to arrive but there were already quite a few people before us, probably the race organisers.
Little Egret looking so elegant walking across the water.
We registered ourselves and were pleasantly surprised we were given a nice grey race tee-shirt. After a short briefing by Lim Kim Chuah, the race was flagged off at 7.30am sharp.
We birded at the SBVC till about 8.15am and did not regret it as we ticked off 21 species here, including 2 cuckoos – a Drongo Cuckoo and a Little Bronze Cuckoo. After that, we headed off to Neo Tiew, Turut Track and Kranji areas. First bird we had was the Long-tailed Shrike which I only managed to get one shot of it – taking off……phew. It almost got away.
We birded around the area and decided to make a rush to Kranji for a very quick walk up to the watch tower to try to get some raptors, and also that Scaly-breasted Munia which we hoped to get since it was building a nest the day before. It was already getting very late, almost 10.00am and it was a really long walk in. After checking off the Dark-morph Changeable Hawk-eagle, and as it was really quiet with hardly any birds at this time of the day, we decided to move off to SBWR even though the scaly-breasted did not show up. We were hoping for the Black-naped Oriole but even that was not there. As we reached the exit, I was lucky to get a shot of the Ashy Minivet. We then quickly left for SBWR to look for our waders.
One of the two Brahminy Kites that looked like they may be building a nest.
It was already past 11.00am when we finally reached SBWR and started chasing after the crows for a shot of them at the car park (can’t believe I was chasing for shots of crows !). We stayed for about 15 minutes at SBWR and got all the usual wader suspects. As we reached the exit, I looked up to see 2 smallish birds on a bare branch some distance away and quickly took a shot. I thought they were Lineated Barbets but was really excited when upon closer look they were Coppersmiths.
Juvenile Oriental Honey Buzzard dark morph flying over Kranji Marshes.
Soon it was already 11.30am and we quickly rushed back to SBVC. We had planned to reach SBVC by 11.30am but we were running a little late. We had learned from last year’s experiences that we need at least an hour to sort out the photos, unlike last year when we gave ourselves only 30 minutes.
After parking the car, we rushed in to try to find a spot to plug in our lap-tops and realised, to my horror, that I was using CF card for my photographs. Our laptops do not have slots to read CF cards and I had forgotten to bring my card reader!
After asking around to see who has a card-reader, I finally decided to check with Han, who was actually so busy himself trying to sort out his team’s photos with his partner Francis. As luck would have it, he did have a card reader. Thank you Han!
The waders are so well camouflaged at the ponds at SBWR
Then we realised we had another problem – the image number I see from the camera is different from the image viewed on the computer. Luckily I had learned from our mistakes from last year – i.e. delete unwanted photos straight from the camera. Thus I did not have too many photos to go through. We managed to complete and handed in our paper and SD card, with only 1 minute to spare! Phew! That was so stressful! We will have to be better prepared if we do come back next year to avoid the stress!
We were delighted and surprised to walk away as second runners up with 44 species. The book prizes were much appreciated.
Receiving our prizes from GOH Professor Leo Tan.
We would like to congratulate NSS Bird Group for a very well organised and successful event and also to Sony for their generosity in sponsoring 3 awesome cameras as prizes. Well done guys!